There’s no such thing as bad publicity

…for the astute, bold, trained and empowered organization

Unexpectedly, you’re jolted off your normal morning routine by the realization that your organization is “in the news” for the wrong reasons or in the wrong context. Your reputation is now under fire or at least scrutiny in the public realm. But is this an automatic negative? Can this situation lead to any good?

“I’ve been analyzing this ‘situation’, both through real and hypothetical scenarios, since I was ateenager,” says Daniel Torchia. “I’ve come to a definitive conclusion. Bad publicity can lead to a great good, provided the actor responsible for a response is an astute, bold, trained and empowered communicator.”


Through experiences and research, Torchia has come to see that publicity leads more people to consult the website of the organizations involved and that a large swath of the population is prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the organization (as opposed to believing, automatically, the media coverage).


“Media coverage does a great job at suggesting the topics or issues that readers should consider,” continues Torchia. “It doesn’t offer the final verdict or conclusion on any particular topic. A segment of the readership will always explore the topic further, and that can be a huge boon to an organization that has a strong sense of communication as part of its culture.”


Organizations that plan for publicity have an advantage. Planning, according to Torchia, means developing key messages, preparing statements in response to various “vulnerabilities” or scenarios, having a solid website that can be updated quickly and a corporate culture that allows for communications-minded persons to have access to leaders at an organization.


“That’s where the ‘astute, bold, trained and empowered communicator’ comes in,” concludes Torchia. “Even if a terrible mistake or crisis befalls an organization, an empowered communicator will admit mistakes or imperfections and will help the company take corrective measures and rebuild while speaking with its main publics, including members of the media. At the end of the day, ordinary citizens and stakeholders are forgiving and will rally behind the organization that demonstrates honesty and a sincere desire for progress.”


We’ve all heard the old adage that character is not measured by the extent to which one stands or falls; but rather in how one gets up after facing a challenge.  In this respect, organizations and institutions are no different than persons.


In the event of bad publicity


  • Seek a full and unbiased understanding of the issue
  • Focus on doing the “right” thing now (not covering up anything)
  • Speak – with great tender love and care – to anyone who is negatively impacted
  • If a mistake has been made, admit it and propose ways to minimize the harm/trouble to persons immediately affected, as well as ways that reduce the likelihood of similar mistakes in future
  • Consider using your own (media) channels or platforms to broach the topic head on (e.g.: social media, website, email marketing etc.)
  • Accept all interviews – speak humanly and reasonably (avoid legalese or sentences devoid of any empathy and humanity)